Google’s New Feature: How to Use Top vs. Side Segmentation

Average position is a great insight into how your ad is competing on the search engine results page (SERP).  But Google recently added another segment option to the AdWords interface that helps pull more performance data on ad positions.

The “Top vs. Side” segment option was recently released by Google for use in the AdWords interface.  You can use this to segment your account data to see how your ads perform above and to the side of Google search results.

Here’s how to view the data:

  • Navigate to the tab you’re interested in segmenting (Campaign, Ad Group, Ads or Keywords).
  • Click the “Segment” button on the toolbar above the data table.
  • Select “Top vs. Side” from the drop down menu.

As advertisers, we have to figure out what kind of insight this will lend to our particular account.  Below is an example of a brand keyword in an account.

For this particular account, competition on the brand term is high.  Our challenge is to make sure we have a presence at the top of the SERP without driving up our cost per conversion.  Besides just checking what our average position is, we can check to see exactly how many of our impressions for this term are being shown at the top of the page, and how many are not.  If we start to see more impressions on the side of the SERP, we might have to increase our bid to maintain the top positions.

Another piece of insight to gain from this report is the difference in average CPC.  Segmenting by Top and Side makes it much easier to view aggregated data for certain positions.  Below is an example of how we can see the difference in data for Top vs. Side:

In particular, I want to focus on Google search because that’s where most of the impressions are coming from. You can see a huge variance in clicks on the top vs the side. The “side” impressions are much higher in volume but have a significantly lower click through rate.

I just want to note that if I looked at this campaign without the segment, I would see a 4.74% click through rate.  This doesn’t seem alarming until it’s broken out and we can see how big the difference is between the CTR on the top vs. side.  Also, the conversion rate is much higher for the top positions as well.

Another piece of insight we can gain from this particular set of data is in the average CPCs.  Since we have already determined the huge difference between side and top positions in terms of CTR, we see the value in our ads showing in top positions. But is it really worth increasing our bids to get there?  Well now that we have this segmented out by top and side, we can see that the cost of a side ad vs. a top ad is a difference of $0.15.  Now we can calculate if spending this much more per click (using the higher conversion rate) is really worth our while.  Depending on the data that is shown in your accounts, you can make more informed decisions on optimizing the accounts.

As a warning, always be mindful of the aggregate data that you’re pulling. I recommend diving into more granular levels when analyzing data before applying optimizations on the account.  Look for differences in Quality Score and keyword sets (match type, long tail vs. head terms, etc) that may create variance in the CPCs and performance within the keyword set you’re analyzing. Also keep in mind that you may have been bidding down on those “side” keywords due to the lower conversion rate which would affect the Top vs. Side data.

These are just a couple of the ways that I see this segment for reporting to be helpful in managing any AdWords account.  I’d love to know of other ways that you are using this segment to help optimize your accounts.

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  • Emily Downing

    This is a really helpful look at the “Top vs Side” segmentation tool. I especially like how you broke down your 4.7% click through rate into top vs side.

    Thanks again for this informative post.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:43 am

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